Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Great Bike Ride – Day 20

Saturday, September 15, 2007

This morning we said goodbye to the Pacific Ocean, which had been our constant companion for eight days.

The variety of weather we faced today was pretty comprehensive. We started out in the cool foggy conditions of the Pacific coast. I wore my leather jacket and leather gloves. In less than an hour, we were getting into the California desert, and I could lose the jacket and gloves. The trick we learned riding out here in 2001 was that a long-sleeved white shirt is the best, as it protects you from the sun and wind.

It wasn't enough. By the time we got to the Arizona border at Yuma, the temperature was well over 100 and we were suffering. We were consuming lots of fluids, but still working our way toward dehydration. So at the first roadside rest we found, we dumped water all over ourselves, and took advantage of the evaporative cooling. This worked great, and we stopped every 25 miles or so to soak down again.

Along this part of the route, we noticed these things that looked like segments of a tower that had been laid on their sides and connected by short lengths of chain. They formed a fence, but I had never seen a fence like this. Seems like overkill for cattle, and not much good for keeping anything else from crossing. We finally realized it was the Mexican border after we came to a Border Patrol inspection station.

Then we came into an area of overcast clouds, and the temperature dropped probably 20 degrees. We could see that it was storming -- BIG lightening -- all around us, and that there were mudpuddles in the fields alongside the road, but we stayed dry -- for a while at least. It made for great riding conditions.

As we came to Casa Grande AZ, we stopped for a brief break at a Starbucks, and noticed the winds starting to pick up. We hopped on the bikes to try to get ahead of it, and ended up in a full-blown dust storm.

And finally the rain caught up with us. We caught a few raindrops, but jumped off the first available exit and holed up in a nice convenience store for a few minutes. It poured for a while. The locals said it hadn't rained around here like that since Spring.

The last 20 miles was easy to the hotel just northwest of Tucson. After grabbing dinner at the Denny's next door, we crashed for the night. Total miles for today, about 407.
We are now officially on the third leg of our ride -- the ride back east. The distance between here and home is diminishing every minute.
That feels good.

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